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NU furloughs 250 staff members

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Northwestern University announced plans today to furlough about 250 staff members, likely through the end of the school’s summer quarter.

In a message posted on the school’s website, NU President Morton Schapiro said the layoffs would affect workers “who are unable to substantially perform their duties remotely or who support areas with significantly reduced workloads in the wake of the pandemic.”

He said the NU would continue to pay benefits for the furloughed workers and provide 100% of the cost of their health insurance premiums.

“They will be eligible to apply for state unemployment,” Schapiro said, “which, when supplemented by the federal stimulus package, in some cases can replace most or all of the lost wages.”

Northwestern has about 6,500 full and part-time staff in addition to 3,300 full-time faculty on its campuses in Evanston and Chicago. So the furloughs will hit about 4% of its staff members.

Schapiro said the school anticipates a budget shortfall of roughly $90 million for its current fiscal year and a shorfall “pehaps as great or greater than what we are experiencing this year” for the coming year, even if on-campus activity resumes in the fall.

He said the school plans to increase the payout rate from its endowment and suspend the school’s contributions to retirement plans for faculty and staff to help close the budget cap..

He also said that he, and the interim provost and the senior vice president for business and finance, will take a 20% pay cut and deans and other university leaders will take a 10% pay cut.

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